Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

07 October, 2006

Saturday Morning Post 2

For starters, if you have made it 27 years into this life (which I have) and have not read C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy (which I had not until recently) then shame on you. Start now. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, resonates with me differently now than it ever could have before or ever will again. In the midst of the novel, which takes place one another planet, I find that it is all about: language learning, inculturation, being instructed by different by others, and fitting into the Maker's plan in spite of ourselves. It is also a novel about fear and doubt that result from living in a fallen world. I have begun the next novel, Perelandra, and it is already proving to be the first one's equal, at least.

Meanwhile, I continue to learn from this culture, not of a distant planet, but I think it might as well be sometimes. Until very recently I thought the hardest part about learning to live in a different culture was the language. I was wrong by a longshot. By far the hardest thing is learning all the UNspoken culture. Apparently any Romanian can tell I am an American before I open my mouth just by the way I walk, look, my posture, the way I look at do you begin to deal with all that? I have come to the realization that no one will EVER mistake me for a Romanian, even if I master the language, accent, roll every "r" perfectly. So it goes.

I learned something about the value Romanians place on community recently. I shared with a few Romanians I have gotten to know that I was planning to hike for a couple of days in a nearby park. They kept asking, "singul?!" I told them of course. They were not just incredulous; it was as if they were offended that I would think to do such a thing. I believe the biggest part of their problem was not that I was doing something potentially dangerous (which they believed it was) but that I was doing something that was incredibly foreign to them. Why would anyone go hiking for days alone? Everything is done in the context of community here. I seldom see anyone walking or standing alone. People congregate outside of their homes and apartments most of the day. Kids don't sit inside and watch TV, they play outside every waking hour that they are not in school or doing homework.

I find that, as much as I like to be the individualist, to do things on my own, my own way, God has actually called us into community. He has given us His Body and made us a functioning part of it. The only way it works, though, is by understanding Grace and applying it to others and knowing they will have to extend it to me. I did not like being told by my Romanian friends what to do. I found myself becoming indignant. But, the Lord's plan for me was different than the plans I made for myself. I did not go hiking alone. But that is another story.

" we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Romans 12.5


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